Sonny Igoe

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Sonny Igoe
Birth name Owen Joseph Igoe
Born (1923-10-08)8 October 1923
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Died March 28, 2012(2012-03-28) (aged 88)
Genres Jazz, swing, big band
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active 1939–2012
Associated acts Benny Goodman, Woody Herman

Owen Joseph "Sonny" Igoe (October 8, 1923 in Jersey City, New Jersey – March 28, 2012 in Emerson, New Jersey) was an American jazz drummer and music educator who, toured with the orchestras of Tommy Reed (1913–2012), Les Elgart, Ina Ray Hutton, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s.

From the mid-1940s to 1988, he performed on over 79 recordings with bands and artists, including The Buddy Stewart (1922–1950) Quintet, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Woody Herman and His Orchestra, Frances Wayne with Neal Hefti and His Orchestra, Rita Moss with the George Williams Orchestra, Charlie Ventura, Tony Bennett, Billy Maxted and His Manhattan Jazz Band, The Chuck Wayne Quintet, The Don Elliott Quintet, Joe Wilder, Phil Napoleon and His Original Memphis Five, Sammy Spear (né Samuel Shapiro; 1909–1975), Pee Wee Erwin, Joe Williams, Marlene Ver Planck (born 1933), Savina (Savina J. Hartwell; 1926–1992), Dick Meldonian (né Richard Anthony Meldonian; born 1930), and Doctor Billy Dodd.[1]

A longtime resident of Emerson, New Jersey, Igoe grew up in Ridgewood and was attending Ridgewood High School when he got his start after winning a Gene Krupa drumming contest.[2][3]

In the 1960s, Igoe was a member of the NBC Television Orchestra and then the CBS Television Orchestra, where his credits included The Ed Sullivan Show and The Jackie Gleason Show.

Igoe's playing was initially influenced by Krupa, but he soon drew upon elements of Max Roach and others, which eventually developed into an exuberant and individual style.[4][5]

Jazz drummer, leader of The Birdland Big Band, and music educator Tommy Igoe (Thomas Robert Igoe; born 1964) is his son.


General references

  1. Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, Volume 18: September 1992 – August 1993, H.W. Wilson Company, New York (1993)
  2. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, First edition, Two volumes, edited by Barry Dean Kernfeld (born 1950), Macmillan Press, London (1988) OCLC 59902415
  3. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, edited by Barry Dean Kernfeld (born 1950), St. Martin's Press, New York (1994) OCLC 30516743
  4. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Second edition, three volumes, edited by Barry Dean Kernfeld (born 1950), Macmillan Publishers, London (2002) OCLC 46956628


  1. ^ Tom Lord, The Jazz Discography Online
  2. ^ Levin, Jay. "Sonny Igoe, drummer for Big Band greats, dies at 88", The Record (Bergen County), April 3, 2012. Accessed December 5, 2013. "Sonny Igoe of Emerson, a Big Band drummer and a prolific teacher, died Wednesday.... Owen Charles Igoe — 'Sonny' from the get-go — won a regional Gene Krupa drumming competition while a student at Ridgewood High School."
  3. ^ Herzog, Laura. "Ridgewood honors jazz great who went to RHS", The Ridgewood News, April 15, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2013. "Another name recognized by many serious musicians was former Ridgewood resident Sonny Igoe, who died last spring at age 88. A 1939 Ridgewood High School (RHS) 'distinguished alumni' graduate, Igoe was one of America's great big band drummers, who even played with the 'King of Swing' himself, Benny Goodman."
  4. ^ Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper, co-written with Pepper's third wife, Laurie Pepper (nee Laurie La Pan Miller), and posthumously updated by her; Da Capo Press (1994) ISBN 0306805588; ISBN 9780306805585
  5. ^ William D. Clancy, with Audree Coke Kenton, foreword by Steve Allen, Woody Herman: Chronicles of the Herds, Schirmer Books (1995) OCLC 243809412, 31435792, 462271707